Willow Klikna has been raising chickens for five years. Her nine birds rove freely in the yard at her Rathdrum home; a source of food, companionship, and entertainment for her whole family.
“They make fun pets, and each bird has a unique personality, just like people,” Klikna said. “They are affectionate, and watching their goofy interactions with each other can be quite enjoyable.”
Her nephew Liam, age 3, is a particularly large fan of their avian companions. Each day he visits, he helps Willow hunt down the eggs from the yard, retrieving and carrying them carefully so as not to break a single shell.
But chickens, unlike the average household pet, offer even more than fun and games. They offer food.
“We get 3-5 eggs a day, but there’s even more out there,” Klikna said. “Since they’re free range, we often can’t find them all.”
Klikna said her hen’s eggs are more flavorful than the ones bought in a store, and the yolks are much darker. She also frequently gets double yolks, which don’t affect the nutrition or taste of the egg, but are certainly a novel sight to see.
There are also health benefits that come with raising your own poultry by controlling the food source for your hens. Klikna buys non-GMO, organic feed without antibiotics. Her birds are also grass-fed and eat freely from the plants in her yard.
An organic feed guards animals from being exposed to pesticides or harmful chemicals, Klikna said. Eating foods from grass-fed animals, especially eggs, also increases your consumption of an important vitamin: K-2.
“K-2 is important for vitamin D-3 and calcium, as it helps us to absorb and properly utilize those nutrients,” Klikna said “We don’t get enough in our diet, and alternative sources, such as fermented foods, don’t provide as much of it as eggs.”
“Grass-fed eggs have much higher concentrations of K-2 than factory farmed birds,” she said.
Chickens are also natural pest control. By eating the ants, ticks, spiders and other insects around the house.
It’s perfectly legal to keep chickens at your home in Coeur d’Alene (though not roosters, and it would be prudent to be courteous of your neighbors and mind any applicable zoning and noise ordinances). Starting your own backyard flock doesn’t have to be an exhaustive process either.
“It’s very easy to get started, especially if you get them as babies,” Klikna said. “They’re low-maintenance animals. Once they’re grown, you can leave them for days, as long as you leave food and water within their reach.”